In yesterday’s blog post about Odwalla bars, you mentioned that sometimes the first ingredient listed on the label is “brown rice syrup (AKA: added sugar)”.
I’m trying to be more cognisant of the amount of sugar in the foods I am eating — what are some other ingredients that automatically mean “added sugar”?
— Amanda (Last name withheld)
Added sugar is everywhere!
Since food manufacturers have to list each individual ingredient on their packaging, many food companies take advantage of this and purposefully use different sweeteners.
This way, if a food contains more added sugars than any other ingredient, it can be easy to fool consumers.
Let’s assume product A (a muffin) contains more sugar (solely in the form of sucrose — white table sugar) than any other ingredient. Its ingredient list would look something like this (remember, ingredients are listed in order of dominance):
Sugar, Enriched Wheat Flour, Butter, Eggs…
Product B, meanwhile, contains the same amount of sugar, but utilizes five different sweeteners. Here is what that ingredient may look like:
Enriched Wheat Flour, Butter, Eggs, Sugar, Whole Milk, Fat-Free Milk, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Oats, Maple Syrup, Salt, Agave Nectar, Evaporated Cane Juice
The nutrition facts label would certainly make it clear that both products contained the same amount of sugar, but a quick glance at the ingredient list might make product B “seem better” because sugar appears further down in the ingredient list.
In any case, here is a list of terms — some more obvious, and ubiquitous, than others — to watch for when scouring ingredient lists.
NOTE: I am not including ingredients that include the word “sugar” in them, like “castor sugar” or “turbinado sugar”.
Brown rice syrup
Cane juice crystals
Corn syrup solids
Dehydrated cane juice
Evaporated cane juice
Evaporated cane juice crystals
Evaporated whole cane juice
High-fructose corn syrup
(Name of fruit) juice concentrate